Born in Beijing, China in 1963, the youngest of five siblings, Jet Li (born Li Lian Jie) was an obedient and obedient son.
The tragedy would soon cloud his life. His father died when he was two years old, leaving his mother alone to try to support his family.
Fearful for his safety, his mother would not allow young Jet Li to do any activity that might be the least bit dangerous. This included rough play, riding a bike, ice skating, etc. He was eight years old before starting school, a year older than the others.
His teachers took a special liking to the boy. He always did what he was told, worked hard, and always got good grades on his exams. Due to his studiousness, he was entrusted with the task of physical education monitor, a leader in state-mandated daily calisthenics.
During the month-long summer vacation, students from all schools attended the Beijing Sports and Exercise School to practice their assigned sport for two and a half hours a day. The arbitrary assignment would be fortuitous for everyone. There were four possible sports: swimming, gymnastics, soccer, and wushu, with approximately 1,000 students in each discipline, from first to sixth grade.
Wushu literally means military art and is a cultural tradition in China, which begins as a matter of survival during war and then becomes a formal sport. Part fighting art and part performance art, athletes are judged on both their application to combat and their aesthetics.
Li was assigned to wushu, under the tutelage of Wu Bin, and approached it with the same dedication with which he did all his schoolwork.
At the end of the summer break, all but 20 of the wushu participants were told that they no longer needed to come to train. The remaining 20 were told to come back every day after school. At the end of another three months, 16 of the 20 were told that their services would no longer be needed.
Li soon earned the nickname Jet due to his speed and grace.
His first competition was also the first national wushu competition since the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s. He was nine years old at the time. Won.
His next big performance was at the Pan-Asian-African-Latin American Table Tennis Championships, the first international event held in China since the Revolution.
At twelve, he became the wushu champion, despite competing against men in his twenties.
Throughout his career, he won 15 gold and 1 silver medals in direct competition with adults.
He performed for Richard Nixon, who asked him to become his bodyguard. The young man replied that he was not interested in protecting an individual, but that he wanted to protect his one billion compatriots.
At seventeen, the young man withdrew from wushu to pursue other interests.
The next phase of his life was the martial arts action hero.
He debuted at the Shaolin Temple in 1982.
It was after this that he was nicknamed Jet Li in the Philippines because his first name was felt to be too difficult to pronounce.
He has appeared in more than 25 films, mainly in China and Hollywood. He has even won the Hong Kong Film Award for Best Actor for Warlords (2007).
He has also slowed down his voice and movements (via motion capture) to the video game Jet Li: Rise to Honor (2004).